Thursday, May 28, 2009

She Left Her Spleen In Muscatine


If Saturday was a day for coughing and sputtering and nearly puking up one's ego, Sunday was the day for leaving it on the pavement entirely for others to run over time and time again until there was nothing left of it but a pool of dried blood.

The Melon City Criterium started out sweet as honey dew and ended in organ donation.

Our plan from the beginning was simple:
Make Maria Win.

Given that field of competion from all over the United States, it would have been a tall task in its own right, but somehow I felt strangely (overly) confident that we could pull it off. Things felt electric in the start when Maria lined up first, me directly behind her. When a rider looked around at the substantial field, freaked, pulled out and went to the back of the pack, I slid alongside Maria with Keri, Sara and Em directly behind.

I looked at Maria before the start, said:
Win it. I will kill myself for you to win this. But if I am gonna die, you better win.

She laughed.
Shrugged her shoulders.
I laughed.
We were off.

It was fast. Physical. I have bruises all alongside my left side and butt from people ramming in to me from the first 500 yards. I took an elbow to the ribs and a handlebar to the ass. I saw Maria having problems with her clips and all I could think about was hanging on.

Our strategy was trying to keep Maria in a solid position in the lead group. We were to settle in and see what the group dictated. Once we were all together we would begin attacking, try to spread the field. It (sort of) worked for the first two laps. I was hanging on in the lead group, and from my periphery I could not see any of my other teammates, although I knew they had to be close behind.

Things fell apart fast. On the third climb I got boxed in on the far left of the climb and the person in front of me dropped a chain. I yelled, Maria took off on the far right with Keri immediately behind her. By the time I recovered, the lead group was shattered, a new one formed and I was not in it, nor could I catch it.

I was entirely gassed.

I tried to regain my composure and jumped in the draft of a second group. We rounded the third turn off the climb and began the descent. I looked down and was going 32 mph. I was so out of breath I couldn't feel the majority of my fingers or toes.

On the descent I quickly saw there had been a crash: first a PRC jersey....it was Maria, multiple others, she sat on the side of the road, bikes literally strewn in the trees. When I passed at that speed I saw nothing but the bright blues of Maria's eyes, looking blankly at nothing as blood poured down her face.

Keri was there, as were others, and I couldn't tell if Keri was also down, injured, or helping but there was no way I could stop as there were still bikes on every side of me. I kept on. I yelled to Ben around the corner to help (and sent him running in the wrong direction...baby and my kid in tow). I jumped the speed bump at the bottom of the descent, narrowly missing someone in front of me as she lost control of her front wheel and nearly ate it. Around another corner I yelled to Kelli and Terry to summon help.

I climbed the hill with adreneline. By the time I made it to the bottom of the hill again, an official, a motorcyle and others were there to help. Then an ambulance. Emily was there with Maria. Keri.

I wanted to quit. I probably should have quit. I didn't. In the remaining laps, it became a game of sheer survival. Each climb became progressively more difficult, and I became less able to regain my composure post climb during the descent.
I tried working together with other women, but mostly I wound up pulling them back into a secondary groups then not being able to hang on to the back when they sped off. At the end they reciprocated my short paltry efforts by shelling me on the last climb.

I strung together a series of tactical mistakes that killed me, finishing feeling a complete lack of fitness and confidence....not to mention, questioning the value of leaving my ego and possibly my body, out there on the pavement, my little boy cheering loudly just around the bend.

Maria would later go to the hospital to be sewn together and learn that her belly had filled with blood. She left her spleen in Muscatine. It sounds like an old country song, but unfortuately, she's still there...and the songs plays out in her life: away from work, and her husband, and her kids...painfully alone.

In Maria's short season she has now watched her dear friend run off the road and literally run over by a wayward farmer. She rallied from that, created a movement, sought change. She now lies three hours away, anticipating little more than the day she can untether herself from her intraveneous pain medication, so she can go home...see her kids.

I have no doubt about her ability to rally from this, just as she rallied on behalf of our friend Doug. I just wonder how.
I believe in the pit of my guts, that those of us who ride; we do so because of the simplistic action of a repeated pedal stroke...the sanity it creates.

But in moments like these, you begin to wonder; if in the quest for these seconds of sanity....insanity draws us in, grabs ahold...and won't let go ...sometimes until it's too late.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Once Bitten... Forever Shy

The Snake?
It bites.



There are really no adequate words to sum up the sheer suck that is this race: blood curdling, stomach inside out puking, legs exploding, awfulness sounds like powdered sugar donuts in comparison to how horrific this was. I dare say delivering my 10 pound child might have been easier...but that was a long time ago, so I might take that back.

Check out the leverage the maybe-buck-o-five-soaking-wet-Kee has to get, just to turn a single freaking rotation:

So what exactly does it say about me, that on the way home, I was planning what I would do differently NEXT year to prepare myself: the first item on that list being proper hydration, second being eating exactly NONE of those goo packs that made me puke my brains out, AND lastly, not getting so up inside of my head that I nearly mind-fu*#&d myself off my bike forever?

I don't even want to know.
Here, in this shot...I still looked normal. I am not even in the granny gear.
Yet:


People who do this race, they are not normal nor are they healthy (in the head).

You see these pics here, and quite frankly, they still won't do this little number justice, because what they DON'T tell you, is that there is a climb BEFORE this here Snakey little cobblestoned climb...which pretty much has you winded BEFORE you even begin to climb said Snake.

Here is the last little portion of THAT climb (and yes, those dudes are wholly hunched over their handlebars, puking...at least that's what Ill keep telling myself) before they even reach the Snake:
Below can get a bit of an idea of just how steep this puppy is...as Keri rocks up the thing like someone who runs out and does this shit for fun every day (she does).

She kicked some serious ass all weekend and I should probably mention...IT WAS HER FIRST RACE. She's something else though:

Now, juxtapose Keri (and Joann) looking all stealth-like and fit here, with this pic here below...where you can see the crowd behind me mocking me, the bile beginning to eek its way from my guts, and the fact that a big ass, and thundering thighs are not entirely great assets for hauling one's self up ridiculous cobblestoned climbs:

Cripes. Perhaps the only saving grace(s) of this deal were:

1. That our race was early in the day...so most of the spectators (read: hecklers) waited until later in the day to make their appearances.

2. The number of Pro, Cat 1 and 2 DUDES that I watched ride up this thing ONCE, throw their bikes off the side and quit, claiming some mechanical failure was substantial.

Suckers:
Really...there is not much more to say.

I survived, if you can call it that. Keri? She conquered.

Next year...someone please let the air out of my tires and spare me the agony.

I'll pay you later.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

And Then There Were Four...(or, as T says: THREE WOMEN...and ME!)


Marley Lou would like you to meet her new sister, Sweet Sadie Jean:




More details are forthcoming....as are details of my weekend of biking hell. Or hell on a bike...if you prefer. But alas, there is a break in the rain, so I must take these girls and go get my boy.

As T wisely stated this morning:
This addition makes a whole lotta women in our house!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

T Entertains B2

If you watch this and don't have a smile on your face after, well...you should probably just throw yourself off a cliff now:


video

Bad Day? You Probably Need a Wolf T-Shirt

I so needed this today. Hours of entertainment, all rolled up into a few reviews for a wolf t-shirt!

(**sent to me by my hilariously good humored buddy Wade).

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Marley Lou

You show up at your race, your sweet dog looking like this:


You finish your race. Dog shits in front of other bikers. You search for bag for dog's shit. Finding none, you feign ignorance, pretend not to notice. You eventually find bag. Search for...clean up said shit.

You chase dog around race grounds, trying to tire dog out for long car ride home. You fall on your ass at the podium area. Flip flops, skittish dog, smoked legs, and a post ride beer do not mix, you think to self.

The masses oogle over your well behaved dog, nonetheless. She gets tired of waiting, tired of our little chase game, decides ....why I'll cool off here...then jump in the driver's seat, ready to go watch baseball:


Friday, May 15, 2009

And Another....

Here.

Kind of makes you want to move to Iowa. Ride a bike.

Or hell, if you're feeling violent, you can come here and take out a few people...with few if any repercussions.

And then there was another....

Here.

Fight over the road leads to a bloody mess at a Cedar Rapids Casey's

Reported on KGAN tv 5/14/2009
video here:

Fight over the road leads to a bloody mess at a Cedar Rapids Casey's.

Police say two brothers were riding their bikes on 8th Ave. SE this afternoon when a guy in a car drove up behind them and told them to get on the sidewalk.

The three men then pulled into the Casey's lot and the car and bicycles collided.

Jack Poohl, one of the men on a bike, then went to the car and punched in a window cutting his hand. He told us he got a ticket for breaking the window and now he wants to know why the driver of the car didn't get a ticket for running into him.

He said, "The only reason I punched out the window was because I felt my life was in danger. If a cop had gotten hit, the Cedar Rapids police would have shot him."

The other man on the bike injured his wrist when he fell on the hood of the car.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

I Love You To...Infinity...And Beyond

The week prior to Mother's Day was a looney one:

Baseball practice x3
Baseball games x2
Track practice
Work Deadlines
Team ride
Time trial
Road Race

Somehow, we managed to get everywhere we needed to be, never forgetting a glove, cup, little man jock strap, or even my bike. We managed to plant an upwards of 100 annuals in your yard, the "pattern" of which, was designed by T himself. We managed to get our dance on in the living room more than once. And, we managed to finally find the nerf basketball so we can resume our living room tourneys.

We capped off our weekend by heading south Saturday afternoon following the the big baseball game to see some friends. It marked a perfect way to kick off Mother's Day weekend...a little baseball lesson for T from Big B, a little mommy bonding time with K, a smiley baby fix, some more good friends, and in the a.m. a fat breakfast and a beautiful drive home.

All was, perhaps too perfect Sunday afternoon as we settled in to our respective couches mumbling about the rapid approach of afternoon track practice. Oh, and there was also MY mother who was deserving of something fine for Mother's Day day. T suggested and I agreed, I'd run and get HER taken care of during his track practice, as T has a bit of an aversion for errands.

Perfect multi-tasking, he said. Except then our little weekend train of dreamy perfection began to drive straight off the tracks as I realized I'd left my wallet, and therefore my life in that cozy little town we visited approximately one hour south.

SIGH.

Off we drove. I dropped the boy at the track, and called my mom to save the day...by picking up the boy, she could also save him from a two hour car ride, and I could be there by the time T finished.

I used the drive to catch up via phone with a long lost friend, and arrived at our friends' house to find no one home. It was funny at first. I made a few phone calls, trying to hunt him down. Soon the entire town was in on the hunt: relatives, friends hours away, and even his family. No one still, could come up with B, and therefore my wallet.

I decided it was getting late and I'd just as well see about breaking in. I made my way to the back of B&K's darkened house, only to find B and Chew, sitting at the table in the dark, scantily clad in their matching spandex, drinking a beer. My wallet laid on the table alongside the five other things I forgot.

As if to continue the train's derailment, when I sent my kid's dad a text alerting him that the boy would be at my mom's instead of in the car with me for his Sunday evening call...I received back this zinger/text...(mind you, he has not visited my increasingly bitter child since Nov.):

"I will call this number from now on as it appears that Tyler is consistently in the care of your parents. I am not quite sure where your priorities lie."

Interesting given the circumstances...but then again, what I have come to expect.

Not to be dettered on my lovely day, I returned to my parents', wallet in tow, had a nice laugh about my forgetfulness, and T and I ventured a couple blocks north, home.

I was beat. T was beat. We went straight to bed. I crawled in to my bed after tucking him in, and flopped my head on my pillow and found this note, stuffed in the bottom of a scrunched up brown paper bag, alongside a miniature furry kangaroo...a baby joey tucked in her pouch.

T told me he picked it up from my sister's garage sale pile, it reminded him of him and me, and how I always take such good care of him. He said was sorry he couldn't do better for my Mother's Day but he needed a car and some money and he's a kid and doesn't have a car or any money.
Never have I been more proud of my kid, never more sure of my priorities:


Tuesday, May 12, 2009

And Then...There Was Finchford


Just when I was thinking that perhaps I had this whole road thing figured out, we threw Finchford into the mix. A 5.5 mile circuit repeated five times. Sounds easy enough. Then throw in a few hills, a smaller group and some 20 to 30 mph winds. Still, very doable.

Throw on top of that a little more than 200 miles in the legs in a 8 day period, a TT less than 48 hours prior, and temps that were a little more than chilly.

There you have Finchford. Oh. And did I mention peeling one's ass from bed at 5 a.m. to drive over and then racing back soas to get the kid to baseball in time?

I am so NOT a morning person. What DO I have figured out?

The more you learn, the less you know. In comparison with the Iowa City Road Race, this was not even on the same scale. Iowa City was fast. One attack after another with my heartrate skyrocketed out my ears 99.9% of the race. During this race...at one point I nearly peed myself laughing. Yes. Laughing. It was by comparison's sake...real slow.

We thought we had a plan, and it could not have been further from coming to fruition.

Nonetheless, one cannot underestimate multiple attacks in the final 2.5 miles into a headwind and a finish into said headwind that goes straight up. My legs are STILL screaming from that final sprint. Anti-climatic as that race was, the finish was exciting. It also nearly killed me.

Results from Finchford are here.
Iowa Cup standings here.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Elkhart TT: Take TWO!


The second running of the Elkhart TT's was last night. Given that I am a seasoned pro (*cough, cough*), I figured this time it would not be appropriate to be dry heave off the side of my bike.

I felt like a complete pile of poo, but I did not puke. Somehow I also managed to shave a little more than a minute off of the first running's time, so that is cool. My legs felt especially crappy given the load of miles I'd already ridden this week; I sort of forgot about this little Thursday night gig while I did hill repeats and a crap load of miles over the weekend and therefore ran myself into the ground.

Ah, well...live and learn...resting well has never been my forte.
Tomorrow we go to Finchford. The fun never ends around here, I tell ya. Results are from Elkart are here.

*pic is actually from Iowa City races a couple weeks ago. I was too busy cleaning the mud and sludge off my bike from Wednesday's ride to even think about taking a pic last night.

Whatever.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Redemption

We all are human boats at sea. We pass one another unexpectedly sailing separate journeys; we make an impression. When our sails catch a gust of wind simultaneously we sail perfectly in synch, gliding.

Each boat we pass is unique, a lesson, a treasured gift.
Together, then apart.

Unfortunately, the learning and the lessons often come in the face of turbulent waves crashing and water overflowing the hulls of our craft, alongside ripping tides. After each storm passes, we assess the damage, lick the salt from any gaping wounds, batten up the damaged areas, mend our sails, and redirect our craft to calm water; taking inventory of our losses, and eventually sailing again.

J and I fit the boats/sailing analogy perfectly, although we have spent far more time sailing apart than together.

Except J was not only just a boat I passed on occasion. For twenty some years, he was also the wind that in my mind, could always right my sail.

Somehow, we always found one another out at sea. Most of the time, we were both lost. Alone. Tired. Afraid. We sought a certain comfort in one another that can only be found in the presence of someone who knows your history from being entangled in the other's.

In high school, J represented the cool, collected, athletic upperclassman we all lusted over but could not touch. In college, he was my elusive boyfriend. He was there when I needed but kept me at an arms length.

I was wild and loud, he was quiet and studious. I ran off to Europe. He dumped me. I came back from Europe with dreams of traveling more. He settled in to a fancy job, married, had a son.

We connected again years later after I had a son. We sailed together again, and then parted. Before and after this journey, I was fractured and painfully alone. He righted me. Then left.

He treated me like a queen when we were together, and the pain of our parting of ways always has been beyond words that exist in my vocabulary.

I implicitly trusted this man in a way I will never trust another human being. I say this because he had me in his arms and he had my trust years and years before my innocence was hardened, taken from grueling lessons of my own experiences.

Somehow, through all the years and our lives apart, we were always able to get immediately back to that raw, initial place; quickly, quietly, like a sweet, cool breeze dancing over a sun kissed burn.

What I didn’t realize until only recently, though, is that when I gave J my implicit trust, I came to protect myself and thereby shield myself from ever fully exploring the relationships I was in at the time because, in my mind, they could never compete with J.

J was so high up on this pedestal I created for him that no man could ever love like him, no man would ever have me vulnerable like he did, no man could, in a sense, compete. I never realized it when I was in a different relationship; in fact, sometimes I tried so hard to fit a round peg into a square hole that I practically killed my spirit off entirely.

But those men, they knew. They knew something was missing, some part of me.
I was never “all in.”

And now, years later as I am more single and unattached than I have perhaps ever been in my adult life, I can honestly, and wholeheartedly say, they were correct. I always did have one toe out the door. I always had this idea, that no matter how great they were…that J was out there somewhere and somehow, and he loved me a little better. I trusted him more.

A little more than a year and a half ago, J sailed by again. Like each time before, J quickly left, sailing on; leaving me alone in his wake, picking up the pieces, tasting salty tears, confused, wondering.

Except somehow this time things were different.

The trust, the pedestal I had J propped on, the person I made him out to be, the sand all came crumbling down around me.

I was capsized at sea.

I realized in the course of an afternoon, that essentially I’d lived inside a lie of J’s withholding his truth from me first for an entire summer, then six months. I was angry, hurt, I lashed out at him like I have never lashed out at a human being, ever.

And then I fell completely apart. Alone.

Nearly half a year later, I realized, that J’s fall was inevitable, that I even set him up for it in my propping him up there in the first place. He wanted so badly to keep from losing that trust, that page in my book, that he failed to tell me when he moved on. It was dishonest. Hurtful. Wrong.

We both knew it and it sucked.
But time passes. Wounds heal. Scars remain. Trust dies.

I found a series of life rafts in the most unexpected of places. I grew friendships. I made amends. I got angry. I got real. I looked at myself. I realized that the place I stuck him, for all these years, it was unrealistic, a fallacy, a lie we both told ourselves. It was unfair.

J was, in all his infinite wisdom, gentle touches, sweet kisses, thoughtful phone calls, and stalwart trust…human. And I had created him to be more than that. In my world, he was invincible.

He is no longer.

He is flawed and broken just as the rest of us are. It took me a very, very long time to realize this. It took me even longer to pull together for myself what impact his standing on that pedestal has meant for me in the other relationships I’ve kept these twenty some years. I haven't begun to reconcile that for myself, but I will.

And then, yesterday, nearly a year later, as I hurriedly scrounged around my office for the pieces of my cycling kit to go on a bike ride…J's name popped on my computer screen.

He apologized.

It wasn’t a perfect apology because J isn’t perfect. It was online, not face to face, just like the last time. I hate that and he know this. But perhaps it's better this way. I don't know that I want to see him anyway. I don't know if I will.

I do know this: he is human, doing the best he can, bailing salty water from his own craft just the same as I do mine. I forgive him, for making the huge mistake of failing to tell me the truth; and instead opting to protect me in a veil of silence and distance.

Forgiveness brings lightness. And for that I am so grateful. It was instant, reminiscent of being held in a tight embrace. I needed it for far too long.

No other man, J included, will stand on that pedestal. It is gone. It no longer exists.

From here on, those with whom I share my life and my journeys….we will share the same footing, the same common ground. I know without a doubt in my mind, that standing on that pedestal brought with it for J it’s own heartache, confusion and a knowledge that he would never live up.

I own this, and for that I am deeply sorry.

I also know that by sticking him up there for all these years, I unknowingly caused others pain and endless heartache, by being fully inaccessible, always one toe curled around a splintery door jam. And I own this, and for that I am deeply sorry.

Trust is elusive now, like the deep line of horizon, except it never comes to fruition.
It never will. At least not in that way again.

For now, my feet are both deeply rooted to this black Iowa soil. My boat is tied to shore, my heart off limits.

I take pause today though, to bask in the glow of the sweet embrace forgiveness brings, enjoying the light, the freedom that comes with it.

He saw his part and I let go.
My boat ready is to float onward, these lessons sewn to my sail.

#FAIL

I have no idea why I didn't discover this earlier. One of the funniest blogs I have seen in a very long time.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Baseball, Bikes and Track


Phew! The weather is over the top amazing around these parts and the air is brimming with the scent of blooming flowers. There are no clouds here, only sun. At least this weekend.

First up: baseball Friday. A spin on the bike. An unbelievably amazing dinner with unbelievably amazing company and amazingly unbelievable wine. And did I mention a surprise dessert that involved homemade ice cream, lemon and strawberries? Mmmm hmmmm.

Oh. And lest we forget, the doggie sleepover and doggie haircut (don't ask) for a dog that is not exactly expected to get haircuts?

And of course, baseball Saturday. A lovely morning whereby I did not freeze my tail off as a spectator and instead enjoyed bleacher butt from a very cozy chair in the sun with friends and family and a very large coffee?

There were also beautiful bike rides Saturday. And did I mention that my friends rock and the weather rocked and the beer was cold and the sun burnt me into a crispy fried thing and there were pickled eggs?

There was also 50 miles of riding and some dubachery and a little Kentucky Derby action to boot. There was a whole lot of laughter which goes without saying, some bad pizza that tasted damned good and pickled eggs and turkey giblets. I mean, can a person possibly live through a biking Saturday without locating turkey giblets and a pickled eggs?

I think not.

We followed this up with a little night ride, fat turkey burgers, a lovely salad, some fruit smoothies, brownies, and another sleepover.

As my kid said: mmmm good day, mom. actually GREAT day!

Then Sunday low and behold there was more sun and therefore more bikes. There was also a birthday party.

Happy 80th Grandma!

And one god awful headwind on the way to said party, which we rode to. Then some jello at the party (green, yellow, AND red), some cake at the party, some wow amazing beef sandwiches at the party. And potato salad. And scotcharoos. And milano cookies. And a long ride home stuffed with food/shit in what presumably was to be a tailwind but was not really a tailwind at all.

THEN there was track practice. Where I watched my kid run full blast around a track again and again. It just happened to be the same track I ran circles on through high school. I sat lamenting with another of the kids' dads at how wonderfully simple the mind of a young boy is when he is with his buddies, a baton, and a track.

There is nothing else, really.
Just running.
And buddies.
Cloudless days.
Laughter.

Then dinner, scrubbing the dirt from my kid and me and bed.

Oh sweet bed.

Except my bed was taken over sometime after midnight by a boy having nightmares who spun and kicked me in the head the remainder of the slumber. And a dog, who finally puked up the pieces of the baseball glove she ate while locked in her own personal prison earlier that day.

All told: 150 road miles. 80 hellacious headwind miles. 1,000 memories. 1 left-handed kid pitcher who pitched and brought tears more times than I can count in a 48 hour period.

Amazing friends. Amazing weather. Perfect.

Did I mention I am tired? And in dire need of a nap?
And that the pickled eggs are $.75 but the turkey giblets are $1.50? And that the American Legion is really one of the finest institutions the dying county towns have going; and the 82 year olds who run them are really true American icons who should be filmed, photographed and memorialized while they are living?

Again, I digress. You ought to see my tan lines.